House Democrats Launch Effort to Expand Violence Against Women Act

April 4, 2019by Todd Ruger
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, shown in January.

WASHINGTON — House Democrats take their first step this week to expand the Violence Against Women Act in an effort to prompt the Senate to do more than simply extend the lapsed domestic violence law — and they’ve included a contentious gun control provision.

The House is expected to pass the bill to reauthorize the 1994 law and add language to expand housing protections for victims, give more help to Native American women and enhance law enforcement tools through grants.

It would also expand the category of who could lose the right to possess guns under the law, adding those convicted of dating violence or misdemeanor stalking to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”

That gun provision could become a focus of the debate, since the National Rifle Association reportedly will score the votes on the bill, and it is among the changes that make it unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate would go along with the House version.

But several Democrats argued that passing their version, which they touted as a life-saving measure, would solidify their preferences ahead of any conference committee if the Senate decides to pass its own version.

So far, the Senate has made efforts to reauthorize the law through the end of the fiscal year, most recently as part of a disaster aid bill that fell short of the votes needed Monday on a procedural motion. Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is working with California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on a Senate proposal, but said last week that the text is still being negotiated.

“Our calculation was that we’re in charge now, we can pass a bill that we think is a comprehensive bill to protect all women,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland told reporters Tuesday. “I’m hopeful that the Senate will take it up … or ask to go to conference on it. But we need to reauthorize it.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, set the stage for this week’s debate and floor vote in February, when she did not agree to a short-term extension of VAWA in a fiscal 2019 spending bill. A leadership aide said agreeing to a short-term extension would reduce the incentive for the Senate to negotiate with the House on a broader reauthorization.

Pelosi said last Thursday that opposition from the NRA would not jeopardize the bill in the House.

“There’s very discrete provisions that relate to protecting women’s safety. And they’re against it,” Pelosi said. “I don’t see that it has much impact on the passage of the bill in the House of Representatives.”

When the Violence Against Women Act extension was excluded from the final fiscal 2019 spending package, a senior Democratic aide said it would have “zero impact” because the grant programs related to the law were funded in the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill contained in the package.

Rep. Tom Cole told CQ on Tuesday that there are some changes that Republicans would accept, such as the Native American tribal provisions, and he would vote for it. But he said the gun measure is something Republicans generally wouldn’t support and Democrats need to be willing “to sit down with the Senate and the president.”

“You’re taking something that should be an easy bipartisan reauthorization of existing law and complicating it to make a political point,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “You’re certainly free to do that, but in the meantime, you should have at least extended it through the fiscal year so that you can make whatever point and then sit down and negotiate.”

When asked about legislative strategy and the gun provision, Rep. Debbie Dingell said that “sometimes things are as simple as they should be.”

“If we’re truly trying to protect women then how can you not put that in there?” the Michigan Democrat said.

A rule approved Tuesday provides for debate on 40 amendments to the bill, which would reauthorize the law through fiscal 2024. A vote on final passage is expected Thursday.

———

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

———

©2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Visit CQ Roll Call at www.rollcall.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

Joe Biden Signs Bill Making Juneteenth A Federal Holiday
In The News
Joe Biden Signs Bill Making Juneteenth A Federal Holiday
June 17, 2021
by Dan McCue

President Joe Biden signed legislation Thursday establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, saying he believes it will go down as one of the greatest honors he has as president. The holiday commemorates African Americans’ freedom from slavery, and has long been observed... Read More

FAFSA Simplification Act Delayed
Education
FAFSA Simplification Act Delayed
June 17, 2021
by Ansley Puckett

WASHINGTON - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid Simplification Act, which will implement changes to simplify the FAFSA application process, has been delayed by a year. On Friday, the Office of Federal Student Aid announced that the act will be fully implemented by the 2024-2025... Read More

Proposed Puerto Rican Statehood Scheduled for a Vote in Congress
Congress
Proposed Puerto Rican Statehood Scheduled for a Vote in Congress
June 17, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- The chances for Puerto Rico to become the 51st U.S. state never seemed brighter than during a congressional hearing Wednesday, despite opposition from top Republicans. Congress is expected to vote on a bill that proposes Puerto Rican statehood within days. It is supported by... Read More

White House, Congress Aligned on Cybersecurity Goals
Cybersecurity
White House, Congress Aligned on Cybersecurity Goals
June 16, 2021
by Victoria Turner

WASHINGTON - As Congress edges closer to putting a final infrastructure bill on President Joe Biden’s desk, it looks like lawmakers and the White House are aligned in their commitment to bolster U.S. cybersecurity through increased federal investment, focusing on prevention and utilizing public-private partnerships to... Read More

Congress Begins Investigation of Alleged Justice Dept. Abuses
Political News
Congress Begins Investigation of Alleged Justice Dept. Abuses
June 15, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A powerful congressional committee is beginning an investigation into reports the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed information about members of Congress and journalists during the Trump administration. The committee’s chairman said he was concerned the Justice Department “used criminal investigations as a pretext to spy... Read More

Rep. Greene Apologizes for Comparing Safety Masks, Holocaust
Congress
Rep. Greene Apologizes for Comparing Safety Masks, Holocaust

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene apologized Monday for affronting people with recent comments comparing the required wearing of safety masks in the House to the horrors of the Holocaust. "I'm truly sorry for offending people with remarks about the Holocaust," the Georgia Republican told... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top